Tiffany Haddish and Rose Byrne are knockdown hilarious in Like a Boss. They are prime examples of how acting chemistry can lift a contrived script out of the gutter. Like A Boss would have been unwatchable with lesser talent. The film spoon feeds its girl power message until your cheeks want to explode. The plot offers zero surprises. But Haddish and Byrne spin the vulgarity and raunchiness into likeability. Like A Boss is successful in its portrayal of true friendship. The actresses light up the screen with great humor.
Mel (Rose Byrne) and Mia (Tiffany Haddish) have been inseparable since middle school. The brash and creative Mia is tempered by the thoughtful and caring Mel. The besties own a custom make-up boutique in Atlanta. They are beloved by their customers and loyal employees (Billy Porter, Jennifer Coolidge), but the business is failing badly. Mel doesn't have the courage to tell Mia that they're broke and in debt.
A lifeline is thrown by cosmetics billionaire Claire Luna (Salma Hayek). She offers to buy fifty-one percent of their company. Mia refuses to sell controlling interest, but is convinced by Mel when Claire changes her deal. She'll take forty-nine percent, and pay off their debt, but they must deliver a new product in time. Mel and Mia bristle under Claire's tyrannical control. Their treasured friendship and company become her targets for acquisition.
Like A Boss is a vehicle for Tiffany Haddish and her outlandish antics. Her strong presence is both tempered and aided by the versatile Rose Byrne. The actresses play off each other to great effect. They enter a comedy zone that's really quite entertaining to see. Even more remarkable is how they interpret the downbeats. Byrne does so much with slight facial movements. When Mel gets sad or angry, Mia cools the sauciness and turns up the empathy. Haddish follows her acting partner; knows when to pull back. The give and take between the actresses is the backbone of the film. They'll make you laugh, and win the audience over by being disarming as well.
Salma Hayek is terrible in this film. Her character is supposed to be a caricature with a huge bust, whitened buck teeth, and flaming red hair. She looks like a clown, a painfully unfunny clown. I can't fathom what director Miguel Arteta (Chuck & Buck, Youth In Revolt) was trying to glean from her performance. He directed her previously in the excellent Beatriz at Dinner. Granted the source material is thin, but the look and actions of Hayek here are just bizarre. Maybe I'm missing something and her character is meant to be mocking someone else. Regardless, this is a role that Hayek will want to forget.
Like A Boss is a good choice for girls night out. The film embraces positive reinforcement and camaraderie among women. The dynamite leads deliver a truckload of laughs to gloss over the script's shortcomings. Tiffany Haddish and Rose Byrne should definitely make more films together. They certainly have a spark in their first collaboration. Like A Boss is a production of Artists First with distribution by Paramount Pictures.